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LE #1: Gustav Mahler

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1. Symphony No. 2 ("Resurrection")
--I: Allegro maestoso
--II: Andante moderato
--III: In ruhig fließender Bewegung
--IV: Urlicht. Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht
--V: Im Tempo des Scherzos
Seiji Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra
Emika Suga, Soprano
Nathalie Stutzmann, Contralto
Shinyukai Chorus (Shin Sekiya, Chorus Master)

This isn't really much of a playlist, is it?
Anyway . . .

The reason I really admire Mahler is because of his ability to go above and beyond his previous works. This was an example of that. A large orchestra and chorus was what this piece called for, and boy, was it stunning!
The first movement really reminded me of something that would play in a Metal Gear game. A compliment to Mahler for being ahead of his time.
He really did an outstanding job in blending together different textures such as oboes and trumpets, or strings and horns in the first movement.
The second movement sounds more like a Romantic-style menuet. It was kind of expected to include at least one calm(er) movement in a symphony, and that's this one. Actually, it's almost completely parallel to the second movement of Beethoven's 5th symphony. But um . . . Wikipedia says: "While thoroughly aware he was inviting comparison with Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 . . ." That was directed towards the finale, however. With this in mind, we can safely say that Mahler very much admired Beethoven's nine symphonies. It's funny that he also wrote nine symphonies, and a tenth was left unfinished! Maybe they were related somehow . . .
The third movement . . . let's see, what does this remind me of? Try Anitra's Dance from Grieg's Peer Gynt. Seriously, if you don't know what I'm talking about, go check it out. It's more of a waltz, fast-paced in character, almost the same tune, in fact! "The movement is based on Mahler's setting of 'Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt' from 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn', which Mahler composed almost concurrently; in correspondence, Mahler expressed amusement that his sinuous musical setting could imply St. Anthony of Padua was himself drunk as he preached to the fish. (The movement was the basis for the third movement of Luciano Berio's 'Sinfonia', where it is used as the framework for adding, collage-like, a great many quotations and references to other scores.)" So I'm wrong again, am I? Oh well.
I got the wrong idea when I first heard the first few bars of the fourth movement. It kind of sounded like Nathalie Stutzmann was singing in the counter-tenor range. However, this movement is starting to grow on me. I like Mahler's way of blending voice with the orchestra. It sounds a lot better than piano accompaniment with voice. Or maybe that's just Ms. Stutzmann's and Mr. Ozawa's talents rubbing off on me.
More Metal Gear music in the fifth movement, I guess. The finale is always supposed to be the much-anticipated movement, correct? I really like this finale for its major solution. It was much-needed after all these dreary minor movements. Not that the fourth movement was dreary at all. It was kind of like the space of three days between Jesus' death and resurrection. I guess that's why they call it the Resurrection symphony, huh? Maybe the first three movements were supposed to represent the protagonist going into a battle, possibly fighting a war, and then s/he dies at the end of the third movement, then the fourth movement comes with a light touch of sorrow and suffering, and then the fifth movement, after the funeral, descends upon the listener with good tidings of new life. I really like the fifth movement because Mahler put in a lot, and it wouldn't seem better any other way. I admire the work he put into having the listener think that the finale would just end in minor, and then he comes back with a triumphant horn call, or the "Great Summons". I also like the lyrics. They're really uplifting to me, especially those last few lines:

"With wings which I have won for myself,
In love’s fierce striving,
I shall soar upwards
To the light which no eye has penetrated!

"Die shall I in order to live.
Rise again, yes, rise again,
Will you, my heart, in an instant!
That for which you suffered,
To God will it lead you!"

To God it will lead you indeed.
Thank you to Bix, who offered Mahler's 2nd Symphony as the Saturday Symphonies selection, or the Symphony Saturdays selection. The SSS. Whatever, thanks anyway.

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Classical Music , Composers